Before my husband, Alex, and I met our boyfriend Jon, I met three men living in a triad. I was intrigued by the idea, but I couldn’t help but think the whole thing was a little ridiculous.
I remember saying to Alex, “I would never want to be in a relationship like that.”
The truth is, the idea scared me. I imagined Alex and the other guy falling more in love then they were with me. I imagined them leaving me and running off together. I imagined myself alone.
When we met Jon and decided to try making something work with the three of us I created all these rules: rules that I now know, were intended to protect me from being left, to shelter me from my fears.
We weren’t allowed to fuck unless we were all there. We only communicated in a three-way chat. The list of rules went on and on, but in the end you can’t protect yourself from other people leaving you. You can’t control how they are going to feel.
Eventually, the rules began to slip away, and I learned to trust Jon and Alex, to trust myself and the three of us, but it wasn’t always easy.
I always say that three-way fucking is really great, but three-way fighting really sucks. And there was plenty of both, thank God there was more fucking then fighting, but adding a new partner (s) won’t magically make everything perfect and beautiful.
There is suddenly this whole new person that you and your partner have to learn and navigate, with all their feelings and beliefs and fears.
But it can also be really beautiful.
In part one I talked about what poly relationships are, how do you know if it is right for you, about jealousy and disclosure, and about the importance of communication. In Part Two I want to talk about some of the things that will help you maintain a healthy, happy, and sexy poly relationship.
1. We’ve met a guy, and we want to make him part of our relationship. How do we bring in a third (or 5th or 6th)?
I can’t stress the importance of clear and honest communication. Before you even begin this journey you have to be clear and honest with yourself, and then with your partner. If you guys are clear about what you want and what you are capable of, it’ll be that much easier to express those expectations and needs to your new partner (s).
When Alex and I decided to move Jon into our home we made a clear choice: Jon was going to be one third of this relationship. He was an equal member. This wasn’t easy. Alex and I had two years of history before Jon. We had a way of communicating with each other. It took time for all of us to navigate this but we did it successfully because we were willing to talk to each other. A lot.
Regardless of how you choose to bring in your new partner (s), or if you are bringing in a “pup” or a “sub” or “dom” or just someone to date while maintaining your “primary” status, knowing this upfront and being able to express those expectations and limits to your new partner (s) is crucial.
One suggestion I have is be open to change and try to let go of control. You will be amazed at the possibilities that can happen if you aren’t trying to control everything and everyone.
2. How do I be a good 3rd (or 4th or 7th) to an already established partnership?
I have been the third for a few (Maybe more than a few) couples, and the key is being attentive to both partners. There are things we will like or be attracted to in each person, and it is important to focus on these things, and to be open to all people in the relationship. If I am more interested in one than the other, or only interested in one, I tend to back out. It never goes well. It’s about making sure we all have fun and we are all included. I try to bring as little drama as possible.
Jon was truly successful at this. There was never any doubt in Alex or me that he loved us equally. He might have loved us differently, but he loved us both, and wanted us both. That made us both feel safe and secure and desired.
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was going into a three-way with a couple who both wanted to fuck me, but I was only interested in one of them. I was so into one of the guys, but the other one was not my type at all and I would never have hooked up with him if I hadn’t of been into his boyfriend. I figured, what could go wrong, two dicks, one really hot guy: pretty much a score, right?
I was wrong. The whole time the boyfriend I wasn’t into was fucking me or kissing me I wanted to scream. I wanted to push him off and run out. It wasn’t his fault. He is a totally cool, handsome guy, and really sweet to me, I just wasn’t into him.
Half way through I made up some dramatic excuse and said I had to leave. I literally did this while both their dicks were in me.
Whenever I see these guys out they ignore me. I probably deserve that.
But here’s the thing: you’re going to fuck up. You’re going to make a mess. That’s part of being human. But as long as we are willing to be honest about our needs, and open to our partners’ needs, and try our best to clean up our messes, then we will be okay.
And also, cut your partners some slack. They are doing the best they can too. That doesn’t mean you stay with a dude who is a complete dick, it just means that even as you’re leaving him or them, or her, you remember: they are doing the best they can with what they have. And none of it is about me.
3. How do I balance my needs, the needs of my partners (sexual and romantic) and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Jon and Alex and I spent a lot of time in relationship counseling. Our Therapist, Beverly Hills based Jorja Davis, would talk about what she called “emotional resources”.
The idea behind emotional resources is pretty simple: how much time and space do I have to give to my relationship (s) and still maintain a healthy balance for myself and my partners? At what point do I run out of resources?
There is always a balance in a relationship between making sure your needs are being met and the needs of your partner and the relationship. If your needs aren’t being met, not just by them but by you, if you don’t have the space to grow and explore and live your own life separate from them, then, in my experience, you won’t feel happy or fulfilled, and in the end, neither will your partner (s).
While I was with Alex and Jon I took on a boyfriend all of my own, Conner. I fell in love him and would go spend the night with him once or twice a month. I also had other fuck buddies. There came a point where I realized I wasn’t giving Jon and Alex what they needed, I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be or as they needed me to be so I had to scale back. There comes a point when we run out of emotional resources and our relationship to our partner (s) and ourselves can be affected. It’s about balancing our needs with the needs of those we are in relationship (s) with.
4. How do I know that my non-monogamous relationship is no longer working?
This is something you, ultimately, will have to answer on your own. There is no easy answer to this. But I think if you are clear about your needs and your expectations, and about what is going on with you, then you will be able to open a healthy and productive dialogue with your partner (s).
Relationships change. They evolve. After years of being in a poly-triad with Jon and Alex I decided I needed something different. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the three of us found a way to make this new evolution work. Alex and Jon decided they wanted to stay together.
Really, all that happened was I moved into my own bedroom, and they stayed in our bedroom. Alex and Jon remained my best friends, my brothers, my family.
I truly believe as long as you are honest about your needs, and open to hearing your partner (s) needs, and willing to explore new ways of being together then in the end, everything will be okay.
At least that has been my experience.
There might also come times when you realize you just might want to close things up for a while and focus on your primary partner (s). Alex and Jon and I did this a few times. It helped us to get clear again about what our needs were.
5. I’ve always believed in Soul Mates, or that one true love. Is it really possible to love more than one person?
Without a doubt it is possible to love more than one person, and loving someone new does not mean that you will love your partner (s) any less. In my experience the more I loved the more love I felt for everyone.
Love is expansive, the more open to it we are the more there is.
If you think about it, this is true in every aspect of our lives. Just because I love my mom doesn’t mean I don’t love my dad, or my brother. If you have kids, does loving your second kid mean you love your first kid less? No. Love is not some finite thing that we run out of.
That’s a really beautiful thing to learn and experience. It changed how I saw life and how I treat the people around me.
And here’s the thing: loving people, and being loved, feels really good. Way better than hating them. So go out there and love as many people as you can. And let them love you. I promise, it will make your life feel really fucking amazing.
Like I said earlier, this is your adventure, and you should enjoy it and experience it to the fullest. Whether that means you are monogamous or monogamy-ish or open or poly, in the end all that matters is that you and your partner (s) are living your lives as big and as loud as you want.
Have fun with it. The cool thing about being queer is we don’t have to limit ourselves to hetero-normative values or restrictions. We get to explore and play and build our own families and relationships the way we want.
How fucking amazing is that?
Also, I’d love it if you checked out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Any support you can give would help a lot!